Though the Nats came up one game short from having a .500 record, it was a great year. The young players especially showed promise, though things were not always rosy. Danny Espinosa had 17 hrs and 52 rbis at the all star break. With a late season surge, he finished with 21 and 66, with a .236 average. Wilson Ramos captured the Nats records for homers by a catcher with 15. He had 52 rbis and hit .267, but his defense was the most impressive. Ian Desmond raised his average to .253 by the end and briefly hit well in the leadoff role.
Michael Morse had a breakout year hitting .303 with 31 hrs 95 rbis. He played a good first base, but the team might keep him in left next season, a position where he struggled. Ryan Zimmerman was hurt for the early part of the year and posted subpar numbers as a result, but still hit for .289 average. Jayson Werth did not have a good year after signing a huge free agent contract. He did finish with 20 hrs and 19 sbs.
Ivan Rodriguez didn't play much fo the year, but was a fan favorite on his continuing quest for 3,000 hits. The hitters, save for a few stretches, struggled this year. The lack of offense cost the team a winning record for the first time in Nats history. The defense, however, was much improved. So was the pitching.
Stephen Strasburg recovered from Tommy John surgery and in 5 starts at the end of the season and posted a 1.50 ERA. Tommy Milone was impressive in his 5 starts with a 3.81 ERA. Brad Peacock shoed signs in his 3 games. While the future looks bright, the present wasn't bad either.
John Lannan reached 10 wins, lost 13, with a 3.70 ERA. Livan Hernandez, a crowd favorite, was 8-13 with a 4.47 ERA because of a poor stretch during the dog days of summer. Jordan Zimmermann, coming off of Tommy John surgery was 8-11 with a 3.18 ERA and should be a staple of the rotation for years to come. Jason Marquis was 8-5 before he was traded and Chien Min Wang ironed things out after a shaky start to his comeback from injury.
The real story was the bullpen, particularly Drew Storen (6-3, 2.75 ERA, 43 saves) and Tyler Clippard (3-0, 1.83 ERA). Henry "MPH Rod" Rodriguez is a young powerful arm that hasn't yet learned to pitch.
The team battled through the bizarre resignation of their manager, Jim Riggleman, and endured the outdated philosophies of their "new" manager, Davey Johnson. The team managed to pull out a number of victories that appeared set to add to the loss column. The Nats were easy to root for in 2011. They're not a finished project, but with talent in the minors and a willingness to spend on free agents, expectations for the coming years are high.